Conversations with Adult Ballet Students: #2. Mary Zhou

This is the second in the series of Conversations with Adult Ballet Students. Leave me a message if you would like to be profiled in a future edition.

這是《與成人芭蕾舞學生的對話》系列的第二章。如果你有興趣與我的讀者分享你的心聲和經歷,請給我留言。

Meet Mary Zhou. Mary is a university professor in Hong Kong and dances 6-10 hours a week.

這次爲大家介绍的成人芭蕾舞學生是周慧泉。周慧泉是大學教授,每周習舞6至10小時。

Mary-Zhou_Tutu_Photo

Q: Did you ever take ballet lessons as a kid? When was that?

 A: No, never.

你小時曾經學過芭蕾舞嗎

答:從來没有。

Q: When did you start taking ballet class as an adult?

A: When I was 28 , in Fall 2008 at the University of Pennsylvania gym. There, I took one class a week. Then I started seriously taking classes in Spring 2009 at Symmetry Dance Wellness with a Russian-trained master teacher, Kip Martin, four times a week. Later on, I took class every day except for Sunday, when the studio was closed.

你成年後何時開始學芭蕾

答:2008年秋天,28歲的時候,最初在賓夕凡尼亞大學的體育館,每周一堂課。然後2009年春天正式開始在Symmetry Dance Wellness跟隨俄派導師Kip Martin,先是每周4堂課,然後每天都去上課,除了星期天(學校没課)。

Q: What motivated you to do so?

A: I always wanted to try ballet, but did not have the chance. Then I happened to see they have ballet beginner class offered at my university gym. So I decided to give it a try.

:學芭蕾的動機是甚麽?

答:一直很想學,不過没有機會。然後忽然發現大學體育館有芭蕾基礎班,就决定去試試。

Q: Tell me more about your initial experience of taking class.

A: In the first two and a half years, I took class at a studio in downtown Philadelphia. My teacher, Kip, is such a wonderful teacher. I think he is the one who made me the dancer I am today. He really took adult students seriously. He believed in us, and believed that adults can achieve as much as children can. So I followed a systematic training with him, which built the foundation for my further training with other teachers. Today, I still think of Kip as someone who created me as the ballet dancer.

還記得你開始學芭蕾時的情景嗎

答:我最開始的两年半時間都在費城跟隨Kip學舞。我覺得他是一個非常棒的老師。是他造就了今天作爲舞者的我。他對待成人學生非常認真。他相信我們,相信成人可以像小孩一樣被塑造。所以在他的系統訓練下,我打下了很堅實的基礎,令到我後來可以再跟隨其他的不同老師學習。所以,到今天爲止,我仍然認爲Kip把我變成了芭蕾舞者。

Mary-Zhou_Class_Photo

Kip Martin teaching Mary Zhou

 

Q: What do you find to be the biggest challenge or difficulty to learn ballet as an adult?

A: I think it is to overcome that feeling that even if you try your best, you won’t be as good as those people who started as a kid. And of course, you can never reach professional level. Also, you are sort of constantly reminding yourself that when those kids are learning, they are growing up, but when you are learning, you are growing old…. That means you will become worse instead of becoming better.

對你來講,成人芭蕾舞學生最大的挑戰是甚麽? 

答:我覺得需要克服一種想法,就是,無論你怎樣努力,你都不可能像那些從小學舞的人一樣好。而且,你永遠不可能達到專業水平。同時,你還在不停地被現實提醒:當那些小孩子不斷學習,他們不斷長大;而當你不斷學習,你就在不斷變老……就是説,你會越變越差,而不是越變越好。

Q: What does ballet bring to your life?

A: I think it just opened up a different world for me. Before I took up ballet, I was a researcher and a writer. So I had only colleagues, classmates and fellow writers as my friends. Now I have a lot of dance friends too. Of course I learnt a lot of new things, and tried out new things. So I think it just added another dimension to my life.

芭蕾爲你的人生帶來了些甚麽?

答:我覺得芭蕾爲我打開了另外一個世界。在學習芭蕾之前,我是個研究人員和一個寫手,所以我有同事,同學,和其他寫手朋友。現在我有許多芭蕾朋友。當然,我也學到了許多新事物,嘗試了許多新事物。所以我覺得芭蕾爲我的生活添加了一個維度。

Q: What is the greatest achievement in your ballet life so far?

A: I used to set a goal: to get on pointe before I get my PhD. Now that’s done. I don’t think there is a single achievement, like performance or competition. I think being able to achieve my current level is an achievement. I am happy when other people say to me they do not believe I started ballet only in Fall 2008. I guess I wasn’t expecting to make such progress in such a short time either. So I will keep on working hard.

:直至目前爲止,你的芭蕾生涯中最大的成就是甚麽?

答:我以前有個目標,就是在取得博士學位之前可以穿上足尖鞋。那個已經實現了。我不認爲我有一個單一的成就,好比表演或者比賽。我覺得能够達到今天的程度,本身已經是一個成就。當别人説他們不相信我是從2008年秋天才開始學芭蕾的是時候,我總是很高興。我想,我自己也没想到在這麽短的時間裏可以有這樣大的進步。所以,我想我要繼續努力跳舞。

Q: What have you gained that was out of your expectation?

A: Being a writer, I also wrote one ballet novel. I put it online, and people liked it. Some of them thought I was a professional ballerina (ha!). One publisher was interested, and asked me to finish a sequel. Perhaps they will combine the two and publish it. So I’m working hard on finishing the sequel.

:有没有甚麽意想不到的收

答:作爲一個寫手,我最近完成了一部芭蕾小説。我放在網上,讀者都很喜歡。他們有些人以爲我是專業舞者(哈)。有書商聯系我,讓我完成續集,他們考慮將正傳和續集一起出版。正在努力碼字中。

Q: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done for ballet?

A: Well, I once took all classes offered in a studio, like 21 hours a week. But last year, I did a summer intensive—four hours a day for 13 days straight. Summer intensives could be quite crazy! I could not even point my feet at night.

你爲了芭蕾而作出最瘋癫的事是

答:我曾經每天去上課,每周上21小時。不過去年我參加了夏季密集課程,每天4小時,一共上了13天。真是够瘋狂的。每天晚上回家後已經不能綳脚了。

Q: What have you lost?

A: I guess I have less time to write now. It used to be work and write. I  have been writing novels since 2002. Now it is work, write and ballet. My readers and editors are not happy about it.

:有没有失去或犧牲了甚麽?

答:我想我現在放在寫作上的時間少了。以前我的生活就是工作和寫作。自從2002年就開始寫小説了。現在是工作,寫作和芭蕾。我的讀者和編輯不怎麽高興。

Q: Is it all worth it?

A: Yes.

一切都值得嗎?

答:值得。

Q: Have you ever dreamt of becoming a professional ballet dancer?

A: No, since when I started, it was already impossible to have this kind of dream. Plus, I actually enjoy taking classes more than performing.

曾經想過做專業芭蕾舞蹈員嗎?

答:没。因爲我開始學的時候已經過了做這種夢的年纪。而且,相對演出,我更喜歡上課。

Q: As an adult dancer, what is your goal in ballet?

A: Not sure. I guess just keep improving.

作爲成人舞者,談談你的芭蕾夢想或目標好嗎?

答:不太清楚。我想,就是繼續進步吧。

 

Conversations with Adult Ballet Students: #1 Wong Sin Ting

Ballet is tough. Tough on the body. Tough on the mind. It’s an art that belongs to the youth—if you wish to be a professional dancer, you’ve got to start young—and you generally finish your career young. But there is a group of adults who are so smitten with the beauty of this art form that they have started to learn it. For some, they started as a child and continue to take class in adulthood. What motivates them to pick up ballet in the first place, and to continue taking class despite the challenges? Follow me in my series of “Conversations with Adult Ballet Students.” My focus will be on adult ballet students in Hong Kong but will also include those in other countries. Leave me a message if you would like to be profiled in a future edition.

芭蕾舞是一門艱苦的藝術,對身體和意志都有極大的挑戰。它是一種属於年青人的藝術—如果你想成爲職業舞者,必須開始得早,但退休也早。不過,職業舞蹈圈以外,還存在着一羣熱心人,他們被芭蕾舞的美感深深地攝住,在成年後才開始學習芭蕾。有的呢,就從小開始學,到長大後仍不舍不棄,繼續鑽研。到底是甚麽驅使他們學習芭蕾呢?在筆者《與成人芭蕾舞學生的對話》系列中,讓我們認識一下香港—以及外國—的成人芭蕾舞學生,對於學舞的一些感想。如果你有興趣與我的讀者分享你的心聲和經歷,請給我留言。

Joining us for the first conversation is Wong Sin Ting. Sin Ting, or Kitty, works as a facilities manager and program officer in Hong Kong. Let’s hear what she has to say!

第一位被訪的是黃蒨亭。蒨亭在香港任職設施管理及籌辦活動的工作,看看她的分享吧!

Sin Ting Wong

Sin Ting Wong 黃蒨亭

Q: Did you ever take ballet lessons as a kid? When was that?

A: Yes, I did. When I was five.

問:你小時曾經學過芭蕾舞嗎?是幾歲的時候?

答:有,當時五歲。

Q: When did you start taking ballet class as an adult?

A: I have been learning ballet since I was a child and since then haven’t really stopped.

問:你成年後何時開始學芭蕾?

答:由細學到大,其實冇咩點斷過。

Q: What motivated you to learn ballet?

A: I’m inspired by the beauty of the movements. At the same time, taking class is a good workout. I can kill two birds with one stone!

問:學芭蕾的動機是甚麽?

答:因為動作優美,同時又可當做運動,一舉兩得。

Q: What do you find to be the biggest challenge or difficulty?

A: The biggest challenge is flexibility. Without a good degree of flexibility, it’s difficult to produce beautiful and elegant movements.

問:對你來講,成人芭蕾舞學生最大的挑戰是甚麽?

答:身體柔軟度。如身體柔軟度不足,很難將動作做得靚及優美。

Q:What does ballet bring to your life?

A:My life revolves around dancing. I love going to ballet performances, for example, I would go with my classmates to Taiwan for ballet shows as well as sightseeing. When I visit the UK, I would find a dance studio to take class and go to the Royal Opera House to watch performances by the Royal Ballet. I don’t read many books but all the books I have at home have to do with dancing.

問:芭蕾爲你的人生帶來了些甚麽?

答:我嘅生活都圍繞著跳舞,如為左睇芭蕾舞星的演出,與跳舞同學一齊去台灣旅行兼睇表演;去英國旅行都要去搵舞蹈室上堂及去Royal Opera House 睇Royal Ballet。我本身係一個唔多睇書嘅人,但我屋企有嘅書都係同跳舞有關嘅書籍。

Q: What is the greatest achievement in your ballet life so far?

A: Being recognized for my own choreography. For example, in 2013, my work “The Time is Now” was chosen to be showcased at the Hong Kong Dance Festival. In 2012, I got the silver award for my choreography for the Group Dance category at the 8th Young Ballet Stars Award organized by the Hong Kong Ballet Group.

問:直至目前爲止,你的芭蕾生涯中最大的成就是甚麽?

答:自己所編排的芭蕾舞作品獲得認同,如2013年所編排的“瞬間即逝”獲選參與2013年度香港舞蹈節演出、及2012年香港芭蕾舞學會第八屆芭蕾舞超新星大賞群舞組銀獎。

Q: What have you gained that was out of your expectation?

A: Well, to me, dancing isn’t just about making movements. It has trained me to persevere and stick to my goals with strong will power. It has also improved my bodily coordination and analytic skills. I feel that what I’ve gained from ballet has helped me become much more efficient when doing other things.

問:有没有甚麽意想不到的收獲?

答:有。跳舞唔單止只係“跳跳跳”咁簡單,訓練埋我嘅恆心、毅力、鬥志、手腳協調能力、思考分析等,令我做其他事情有事半功倍的感覺。

Q: What have you lost?

A: As I spend most of my free time in dancing, I’ve sacrificed the chances to hang out with other friends and go shopping and dining.

問:有没有失去或犧牲了甚麽?

答:有,因大部分時間用來跳舞,犧牲了同其他朋友去食飯同行街嘅機會。

Q: Is it all worth it?

A: Sure, because dancing is what I like to do most!

問:一切都值得嗎?

答:值得,因為跳舞是我最喜歡的東西。

Q:Have you ever dreamt of becoming a professional ballet dancer?

A: Well, I did dream to become a dancer, but when I was in secondary school, I realized that I didn’t have the right body to become one—I was not flexible enough, my legs were not straight enough, and I didn’t have a high arch. But I think that I might have other talents related to dancing, such as piano accompaniment or choreography.

問:曾經想過做專業芭蕾舞蹈員嗎?

答:其實都有夢想成爲芭蕾舞演員嘅,哈哈… 不過,中學時期放棄了這個想法,因為我自知唔夠鬆,腳唔夠直,又冇大腳背,唔係一個專業舞者應有嘅身型。但我會諗其實可能我係跳舞另一方面都會有才能,例如彈琴伴奏或者編舞。

Q: As an adult dancer, what is your goal or dream in ballet?

A: As I won’t be a professional dancer, I only hope to be able to continue to dance happily with my dance buddies. I have once had the desire to choreograph a full-length ballet to be performed on stage. Perhaps this can be considered my ballet dream, ha ha!

問:作爲成人舞者,談談你的芭蕾夢想或目標好嗎?

答:因為我不是想做一個專業芭蕾舞蹈員,所以只希望繼續跳舞,與志同道合的朋友一齊開開心心地跳舞。但是,我曾有想過編排一套full-length嘅芭蕾舞劇係舞台上演出,可能這個都算係芭蕾夢想,哈哈!

‘Would You Rather’: Ballet Edition #1

Responding to the “Adult Ballerina Project“‘s first ballet edition of “Would you Rather!”, here are my answers to her five questions:

#1 Would you rather be incredibly naturally flexible or have endless stamina?–By Kyla

At my age, neither can be easily attainable, but if I’m only give one choice, I’d choose incredible flexibility–it would create the great looks on stage–provided I don’t have to dance very long!

#2 Would you rather take an early morning class (6am) or a late evening class (9pm)?

Early morning class. Late evening classes mean cortisol build-up at a time of the day when the body should be winding down. Not great for health.

#3 Would you rather do 32 changements or 32 fouettés?–By Beth

I could do 32 changements but I’d rather be able to do 32 fouettés, for the obvious reason that I can’t actually do even one! And fouettés are like the ultimate yardstick of technical virtuosity. Oh well, perhaps another life time!

#4 Would you rather do a développé with proper technique or a higher développé suspecting your instructor doesn´t see you cheat?–By FGH

Oh, please allow me the vanity of doing higher développés 😛

#5 Would you rather have beautifully arched feet or perfect legs?–By Kyla

Another question that reveals I have neither. And here is another vain answer: Beautifully arched feet.

If you are interested in posting your own questions on your blog, do so and go to Adult Ballerina Project‘s page to post your blog’s link.